Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has alleged that there are politicians in Nigeria who supported the activities of the Boko Haram sect in their lust for power.
Soyinka, who said this in an interview on television network, Channel 4, aired recently in the United Kingdom, stated that these set of politicians were ready to sacrifice anything in their pursuit for power.
According to him, today, the terrorist group has turned against the forces that supported its emergence.
He explained: “This is what is happening right now: in Nigeria, and I think that many people are admitting it today, there were politicians who actually supported what Boko Haram was doing.
“They supported them for various reasons because in their lust for power and pursuit for power, they were ready to sacrifice anything or to ally with anything, and of course they found that they have been turned against (by) the very forces that helped them.
“This is how Boko Haram really acquired its power, its nuisance value, and its effect on the society, because it had backing from even what we call mainstream Islam.
“That is not the situation today: most people are beginning to realise that we are dealing with a party of death, their ideology is death and there is only one way to deal with people like that. If you say you disagree with their ideology, you ensure you hit them before they hit you.”
Soyinka described the issues surrounding the disappearance of over 200 Chibok girls as a grievous dereliction of responsibility on the part of the Goodluck Jonathan administration, which was in government at the time of their abduction.
He recalled that when the girls were first declared missing, there was a cynical approach to the information on their kidnapping.
“The government refused to accept this fact until it was too late… For at least two weeks, it would have been possible from all reports to rescue those girls,” he added.
Soyinka, who was defeated in his bid to become the Professor of Poetry at Oxford University in the UK, attributed his defeat to inexperience on his part.
“I think this is the first time I have really been involved in a serious contest. I was nominated by people and I felt that was a marvelous idea to retire into poetry. I like what some of my detractors said; I took it quite seriously.
“When things got a bit tough, I said listen, we are experienced in Nigeria in electioneering, let me bring our experts, they would rig this election and I would emerge victorious overnight. But they won’t listen to me and we lost,” he responded to his interviewer tongue-in-cheek.
Responding to a question on the agitation by some students in Oxford University for the removal of the statue of Cecil Rhodes, the 19th century mining magnate and British imperialist who once served as the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony (present day South Africa and Namibia) and later founded Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe and Zambia), at the Ivy League university, Soyinka said: “For me, I am not prone to one side more than the other. I believe very much in history.
“History is not just what is written down, it is also culture. The painful part of history is how a people or a community came to be.
“I told a story when I was a Fellow in Churchill College, Cambridge, and I was there for about a year. Every time I came down to have a drink or go for breakfast or dinner and I saw the statue of Winston Churchill, I had to overcome the feeling of giving it a sharp blow to send it crashing.
“For me, that is perfectly natural and at the same time I must confess that academically speaking, that this is part of the shameful and embarrassing history.”
The Nobel laureate said he disliked Churchill because he was a “master colonialist”, but acknowledged that the British would never subscribe to the feelings that he held against Churchill.
“I am looking at that history from my point of view. But he is part of that history of the United Kingdom,” he said. When asked on his views on racism, Soyinka said: “Globally, Britain, America, Europe and even their “poorer European cousins”, all amounts to colour.
“I think we are going backwards. There was a time when the sense of humanity became globalised. What Martin Lurther King fought for is not yet over.”